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West Bengal: Not new to violence towards journalists

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By Arnab Mitra

Twenty-one journalists from various media houses were attacked and injured on October 3, while they were covering the elections to the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation in West Bengal.

These attacks have once again brought forward the issue of freedom of press and the safety of the journalists working in the field.

According to Forbes Media, more than a thousand journalists have died since 1992 while covering crossfires, handling dangerous assignments, or in combat related fatalities but murder is by far the leading cause of the death of Journalists.

In the year 2015, 44 Journalists were killed in different parts of the world. In India, three journalists were killed and many were attacked while covering the news. In Madhya Pradesh, Aaj Tak Journalist Akshay Singh died covering Vyapam scam. Journalist Sandeep Kothari was killed in Madhya Pradesh after he revealed the illegal mining activities and the Shahjahanpur based Social Media Journalist Jagendra Singh was allegedly killed by the local police at the behest of the State Backward Classes Welfare Minister Ram Murti Verma in Uttar Pradesh.

Not only in India but in every corner of the world Journalists are routinely threatened or killed by powerful and influential people who fear the pen more than the sword. In Bangladesh, blogger Niloy Neel was mercilessly killed by the Islamic terrorists. In France, 12 journalists were killed in an attack on French Satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, on January 7, 2015 by two Islamist gunmen due to their controversial cartoon of Prophet Muhammad. The American Journalist James Folley and Steven Sotloff were beheaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) when they were covering the war in Syria.

In West Bengal there have been many incidents where the Government tried to choke the freedom of the Press. The black period of Indian Journalism was said to be during the Emergency from June 25, 1975 to March 21, 1977. The leading newspapers like The Hindu, The Statesman, and The Times of India had published newspapers with blank editorials as a mark of protest against media censorship. At that time, many journalists were tortured and sent to jail, including Barun Sengupta- the founder editor of leading Bengali Newspaper Bartaman, Gour Kishore Ghosh- founder editor of leading Bengali newspaper Aajkal, and Kushwant Singh.

In 1984, the Anandabazar office was forcefully closed down by congress hooligans for 51 days. Journalist Avijit Basu had to pay the price for unearthing the picture of ‘Real Democracy’ on August 13, 2000 when he covered the CPI(M) atrocities in Uttarpara-Kotrang municipal elections (Source: Anandabazar Archive). From Bidhan Chandra Roy to Mamata Banerjee, every ruler feared the pen and the incident at Bidhannagar again proved the hapless attitude of a coward government..

The recent attacks in Bidhannagar have been severely condemned by various journalists belonging to different media houses.

Professor Santwan Chattopadhyay, Department of Journalism, Jadavpur University said: “I totally condemn the attack on the journalists, but it is nothing new. Do not forget the attack on the woman journalist when there was a late night meeting in Subhaprasanna’s house before the change of government.”

Thirumoy Banerjee, Sub-editor, Times of India stated: “Not just as a journalist, but also as a common man, it pains me to see members of the media being beaten up like this.” Shantasree Sarkar, Assistant Producer, India Today called the attack as “atrocious” and added: “This is the death of democracy and silencing media will not stop their brutality.”

NewsGram condemns these attacks on the journalists in West Bengal, and we urge the government to remember that “The Pen is mightier than the sword”.

 

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Report Claims, As Many As 1 Billion Indians Live in Areas of Water Scarcity

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater -- 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater -- 12 per cent of the global total.

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Global groundwater depletion - where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally - increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India's rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period. Pixabay

As many as one billion people in India live in areas of physical water scarcity, of which 600 million are in areas of high to extreme water stress, according to a new report.

Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid.

This number is expected to go up to five billion by 2050, said the report titled “Beneath the Surface: The State of the World’s Water 2019”, released to mark World Water Day on March 22.

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Pure water droplet. Pixabay

Physical water scarcity is getting worse, exacerbated by growing demand on water resources and and by climate and population changes.

By 2040 it is predicted that 33 countries are likely to face extremely high water stress – including 15 in the Middle East, most of Northern Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Spain. Many – including India, China, Southern Africa, USA and Australia – will face high water stress.

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Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid. Pixabay

Global groundwater depletion – where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally – increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India’s rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period.

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The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater — 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater — 12 per cent of the global total.

The WaterAid report warned that food and clothing imported by wealthy Western countries are making it harder for many poor and marginalised communities to get a daily clean water supply as high-income countries buy products with considerable “water footprints” – the amount of water used in production — from water-scarce countries. (IANS)